Though an 8-year-old will tell you that kissing gives you cooties, the smooch itself isn’t the problem. Even after your face-smacking partner brushes his teeth, his saliva might still have traces of something he ate or a medicine he took earlier in the day. When you have a life-threatening allergy, get your sweetie to swear off the stuff, too. Or you can brush, rinse, and then avoid locking lips for 24 hours.
Some people break out in hives after just a few minutes outdoors. After they step inside, the rash usually goes away within a few hours. This condition, called solar urticaria, isn’t usually dangerous, but it can be itchy, uncomfortable, and a real roadblock to enjoying life. Sometimes it can be treated with desensitization therapy: You’re exposed to more and more UV light in a medical office until your body becomes used to it.
A Juicy Burger
Researchers at Vanderbilt University noticed that thousands of people in the Southeastern U.S. were having severe allergic reactions to meat, including rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and trouble breathing. The bite of a lone star tick seemed to kick-start it. With this allergy, you’ll need to think like a vegetarian: Avoid red meat and possibly dairy. Carry an emergency epinephrine pen, too, just in case.
A handful of change can leave you with an itchy rash. Body piercing is another common trigger. Nickel (a metal found in coins, jewelry, keys, and other everyday objects) is one of the leading causes of allergic dermatitis. A quick test in your allergist’s office can often tell whether that’s the problem. You can treat breakouts with a prescription corticosteroid cream.
A Light Scratch
Someone with dermatographia (literally, “skin writing”) can get raised red welts on their skin minutes after it’s pressed or stroked. Clapping your hands, irritation from your clothes or bed sheets — even sitting — can cause hives. It’s a condition related to the allergies to sunlight and cold. Worry and warm temperatures may make it worse. Antihistamines can often ease the symptoms.
Working Up a Sweat
No, really! It’s a rare condition, but a trip to the gym can lead to hives and vomiting when you have exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Your heart might even stop pumping correctly, and you could die. Jogging is the most common cause, but even lower-impact activity such as yard work can bring it on. Some people’s symptoms are triggered by eating certain foods before exercise.
A child’s party favor could cause a reaction from a rash to anaphylactic shock. Latex, a stretchy rubber material, is also found in some disposable gloves, rubber bands, toys, and pacifiers. The allergy is more common with people who work in health care, have had many surgeries, or have spina bifida. If you’re affected, wear a medical alert bracelet to give health care workers the heads-up to use alternative gloves when they treat you.
A latex allergy when you’re using latex condoms can make things very uncomfortable in bed. Try ones made out of polyurethane instead.
If getting hot and bothered still gives you hives, you might be allergic to your partner’s semen. A condom can protect you. Or an allergist can expose you to the substance a little bit at a time, so you build up tolerance.
A very small group of women who have autoimmune progesterone dermatitis are actually allergic to their own hormone. They get hives, mouth sores, or a body rash when their progesterone peaks once a month. Mild cases can be treated with antihistamines and skin creams. For more severe cases, hormone therapy or removing your ovaries can fix the problem.